A 5-year-old boy who became trapped in a well more than 100 feet deep since Tuesday has died, the royal palace in Morocco said Saturday.
Crews had been racing to rescue the child. But as the efforts stretched into a fourth day, with unstable soil making the task of digging him out safely more difficult, rescuers retrieved the boy's body late Saturday.
Moroccan King Mohammed VI expressed his condolences to the boy’s parents in a statement released by the palace and carried by state media reported. According to the statement, the boy died before rescuers could save him.
The boy's parents were escorted to an ambulance before the boy emerged from a tunnel dug specifically for his rescue.
The boy, identified as Rayan Awram, fell down the well on his family's property near the village of Ighran in the Chefchaouen province on Tuesday night, according to local reports.
As the search began the child's immediate condition was not clear, although local publication Le360 reported breathing was detected and oxygen was pumped into the area of the well he occupied.
The publication said a remote camera had been lowered near Rayan and was helping rescuers monitor his condition.
Medical staff from the kingdom's health ministry was deployed and ready to treat the boy, and a helicopter was standing by to fly him to the nearest medical facility, according to state media.
A parallel hole was dug overnight almost to the depth of the well, state media reported, and Le360 said an additional horizontal tunnel would have to be created to reach him.
The publication said there was a setback on Friday when debris filled the parallel hole, delaying efforts for an unknown amount of time.
Live video from the scene showed multiple American-made Cat excavators around the well, with rescuers also working by hand.
State media said the well was unfenced.
A man identified by Le360 only as Rayan's father told the publication the boy was with him as he was repairing the well.
"Rayan was next to me," the father said, according to a translation. "At one point he fell. I didn't realize it."